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Bangladesh - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in Bangladesh. Subjects covered include:

  • Key statistics;
  • Market and industry overviews;
  • Regulatory environment;
  • Major players (fixed and mobile);
  • Infrastructure development;
  • Mobile voice and data market;
  • Internet services;
  • Regulatory environment.
  • Telecom market forecasts for selective years to 2018.


Despite being one of the poorest, most densely populated, least developed countries in the world, Bangladesh has discovered a way to grow its telecommunications sector. Against the odds, this nation of more than 160 million people and comparatively low GDP has been involved in the creation of a highly competitive mobile market. Most noticeable has been the willingness to encourage foreign participation in this endeavour. Following a number of years of strong growth, starting from a very low base, mobile telephone penetration was approaching the 30% milestone in early 2009.

  The outstanding success of the mobile market, however, has been achieved in a Bangladesh that continues to struggle with its lowly economic status, its frequent natural disasters such cyclones and floods and the slow implementation of much-needed economic reforms. This state of affairs is reflected in the fixed-line segment of the local telecom market which remains stagnant with a teledensity of less than 1%, the lowest in South Asia. With almost 99% of homes lacking a telephone and with a substantial waiting list for fixed-line services, the country is still struggling with some of the most underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure in the world. Interestingly, about 80% of Bangladesh’s 1.5 million fixed telephone services were to be found in its four main cities and most of these (61% as at June 2009) had been provided by the state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board.  

So, it is with some fascination that the outsider observes what has been, and continues to be, a booming mobile market in Bangladesh. In the first half of 2009, there were signs that the growth rate was easing considerably. The challenge for the operators is to maintain viable business models, given that ARPU has been rapidly falling as the telcos chase subscribers in the rural areas where 80% of the population lives in 86,000 villages. The booming mobile phone industry is estimated to have created nearly 240,000 jobs throughout the country.  

Bangladesh - Key telecom parameters - 2008 - 2009
Category | 2008 | 2009 (e) |

Fixed-line services: |

  • Total number of subscribers (million) | 1.34 | 1.55 |
  • Annual change | 13% | 16% |
  • Fixed-line penetration (population) | 0.84% | 0.87% |
  • Fixed-line penetration (household) | 4.5% | 4.7% |
Internet: |
  • Total number of subscribers1 | 200,000 | 250,000 |
  • Annual change | 14% | 25% |
  • Internet subscriber penetration (population) | 0.1% | 0.1% |
  • Internet subscriber penetration (household) | 0.5% | 0.6% |
Mobile services: |
  • Total number of subscribers (million) | 45.2 | 50.0 |
  • Annual change | 33% | 11% |
  • Mobile penetration (population) | 28% | 30% |
| (Source: BuddeComm)
Note: 1Estimates for both 2008 and 2009.

  Key highlights:
  • Bangladesh’s mobile market passed 47 million subscribers by June 2009 with penetration running at 30%. This was preceded by a significant three-year period in which the country saw mobile subscriber numbers more than treble as the market expanded rapidly.
  • GrameenPhone was far and away the leading mobile operator, claiming around 21 million subscribers, or 47% of the total mobile subscriber base, as at mid-2009, despite the best commercial efforts of its five competitors.
  • Internet penetration remains low (0.4% user penetration by end-2008) and Internet subscription rates are considerably lower.
  • Although broadband Internet services are virtually non-existent in Bangladesh, following the granting of a number of WiMAX licences in 2008, there is considerable optimism that this is about to change.
   Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

1. Key Statistics
2. Telecommunications Market
2.1 Overview of Bangladesh’s telecom market
2.2 Background
3. Regulatory Environment
3.1 Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC)
3.2 Telecommunications Law
3.3 The National Telecommunications Policy of 1998 (NTP-98)
3.4 Telecommunications Act 2001
3.5 The Communications Convergence Bill 2001
3.6 Privatisation and liberalisation
3.7 Tariffs
3.8 Regulatory developments
4. Fixed Network Market
4.1 Overview of operators
4.2 Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL)
4.2.1 Fifth Five Year Plan and beyond
4.3 Bangladesh Rural Telecommunications Authority (BRTA)
4.4 Sheba Telecom
4.5 WorldTel
4.6 Basundhara Communications Network Limited (BCNL)
4.7 Dhaka Phone
4.8 Other licensees
5. Telecommunications Infrastructure
5.1 National telecom network
5.1.1 Fibre optic networks
5.1.2 Public payphones
5.1.3 Grameen Telecom’s Village Project
5.1.4 Next Generation Networks (NGNs)
5.1.5 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
5.2 International infrastructure
5.2.1 International Gateways
5.2.2 Satellite networks
5.2.3 Submarine cable networks
5.2.4 Other fibre links
6. Internet Market
6.1 Overview
6.1.1 Internet statistics
6.1.2 Constraints on Internet growth
6.1.3 Censorship
6.2 MediNet
6.3 Village Computer and Internet Program
6.4 International Internet Gateway (IIG) licences
6.5 ISP market
6.5.1 Overview
6.5.2 BTTB’s ISP service
6.5.3 Grameen Cybernet
6.5.4 Integrated Services Network
6.5.5 InTech Online (IOL)
6.5.6 AlwaysOn
6.6 VoIP
7. Broadband Market
7.1 Overview
7.2 Wireless broadband
7.2.1 WiMAX licences
7.3 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
7.4 E-commerce
7.5 Cyber law
8. Broadcasting
8.1 Overview of broadcasting market
8.2 Free to Air (FTA) broadcasting
8.2.1 National Broadcasting Authority of Bangladesh
8.3 Cable TV
8.4 Satellite TV
8.4.1 ATN Bangla
8.4.2 Boishakhi
8.4.3 BTV World
8.4.4 Channel i
8.4.5 Ekushey Television (ETV)
8.4.6 NTV
8.5 Consolidation and convergence
9. Mobile Communications
9.1 Overview of Bangladesh’s mobile market
9.1.1 Mobile network shutdown
9.1.2 Mobile statistics
9.2 Regulatory issues
9.2.1 Interconnection issues
9.2.2 Infrastructure sharing
9.2.3 Spectrum allocation
9.2.4 SIM registration
9.3 Mobile technologies
9.3.1 Mobile handsets
9.4 Major mobile operators
9.4.1 CityCell (PBTL)
9.4.2 GrameenPhone
9.4.3 Orascom Telecom (formerly Banglalink / Sheba Telecom)
9.4.4 Telekom Malaysia International Bangladesh (TMIB) / AkTel
9.4.5 Teletalk (BTTB)
9.4.6 Warid Telecom
9.5 Mobile voice services
9.5.1 Prepaid
9.5.2 Satellite mobile
9.6 Mobile data services
9.6.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
9.6.2 Mobile portal service
9.6.3 Mobile broadband
10. Forecasts
10.1 Forecast fixed-line market - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
10.2 Forecast Internet services - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
10.3 Forecast mobile subscribers - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
11. Glossary of Abbreviations
List of Tables and Exhibits
Table 1 - Country statistics Bangladesh - 2009
Table 2 - Telecom revenue and investment statistics - 2008
Table 3 - Telephone network statistics - June 2009
Table 4 - Internet user statistics - 2008
Table 5 - Mobile statistics - March 2009
Table 6 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 7 - Subscribers by operator - June 2009
Table 8 - Fixed telephone line targets and teledensity - 2010; 2025
Table 9 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2009
Table 10 - Internet users and number of ISPs - 1996 - 2009
Table 11 - Internet subscribers - 1997 - 2009
Table 12 - Total international Internet bandwidth - 1998 - 2008
Table 13 - Key broadcasting statistics - 2008
Table 14 - Cable TV subscribers - 2002 - 2008
Table 15 - Mobile subscribers - 1996 - 2009
Table 16 - Mobile subscribers by operator and annual change - March 2009
Table 17 - Mobile market share by operator - 2008
Table 18 - Mobile services monthly ARPU - 1998 - 2008
Table 19 - CityCell (PBTL) subscribers - 1999 - 2009
Table 20 - GrameenPhone subscribers - 1998 - 2009
Table 21 - Orascom Telecom subscribers - 2002 - 2009
Table 22 - TMIB (AkTel) subscribers - 2005 - 2009
Table 23 - Teletalk (BTTB) subscribers - 2005 - 2009
Table 24 - Warid Telecom subscribers - 2007 - 2009
Table 25 - Forecast fixed-line subscribers - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
Table 26 - Forecast Internet subscribers - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
Table 27 - Forecast mobile subscribers - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
Exhibit 1 - Mobile operators in Bangladesh - 2008

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